As the dust slowly settles on the aftermath of the pandemic, it is becoming increasingly clear that if there is one business lesson, we’ve learned from the last few years, it’s that our world can be radically and permanently disrupted within the blink of an eye.
The potential of market altering disruptions of every conceivable shape and size – geo-political conflict, war, climate change, natural disasters, health crisis, financial downturns, civil unrest, technical advancements, and new market entrants to name just a few – seemingly lurk around every corner, ready to capsize otherwise buoyant businesses. It is a core belief that informed the creation of VENN, one which we had to explain prior to the pandemic, but which is obvious to everyone today.
But it’s the aftermath of disruption that often proves as disconcerting and confusing as the disruption itself. One need look no further than the prolonged supply chain issues, under-employment, the commercial real estate glut and uncharacteristically stubborn inflation, to understand that disruption is often just the first seismic occurrence that can throw you off your game, but it’s the rolling aftershocks that exacerbate the situation.
And in a world that is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before disruption is more frequent and the potential negative impact far greater than ever before too. Couple this with the fact that most companies are leaner than at any time in the recent past and the result are businesses that are utterly unprepared for the next wave of disruption heading toward their shores.
It’s difficult if not impossible to predict the future, let alone develop growth strategies and contingencies for potential disruptions when your buried in the here and now. And even awareness of potential disruptions isn’t sufficient to scare most businesses into protecting themselves against the disruption that nearly every brand will eventually be forced to confront at one time or another.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, we at VENN would argue, if you’re running a business responsibly, it should NEVER be this way and that it is instead incumbent upon leaders to view investment in growth strategies and innovation planning as insurance against disruption. Disruption that is more frequent, faster and more impactful than at any time in the history of business. In the same way that any well-run business mitigates risk with insurance of all types – from liability insurance to flood insurance – effective and regular investment in growth strategies, scenario planning and innovation provides the means by which to identify potential threats early and plan for alternative growth strategies which ultimately help to stave off competitors.
When viewed through this lens, the failure to plan for the future, including potential disruption isn’t merely an oversight, it’s nothing short of managerial negligence! While this applies to businesses of all types, this is particularly true of privately held, middle market companies which are unencumbered by pressure from Wall Street and the disproportionate prioritization of shareholder return over long-term protection of the business that comes along with being publicly held.
VENN helps businesses with a bias for growth develop strategies derived from scenario planning which identifies the most viable opportunities, brings them to life and aids in comparison in order to build consensus and provide greater clarity about what the future looks like and how to chart a path to get there. Because without a consensus, clarity of direction and a plan for how to achieve it, growth won’t happen. We’ve helped brands as diverse as Wusthof Cutlery and Mr. Roof develop growth strategies that protected their respective businesses from disruption while seizing first mover advantage to enter new markets, and in the process increase revenues and profits.
Has your executive team reached consensus on your business’ growth trajectory, or is it increasingly exposed to potential disruption? The answer to this question could be the difference between long -term viability and value destroying disruption.